Team preview: West Indies September 4, 2007

Strength in depth

Batting strength down the order will be West Indies' trump card, but they will be coming into the tournament cold. By Andrew McGlashan



Bravo is a potential match-winner in all three departments of the game © Getty Images

The shorter the game the more competitive West Indies are; and by that reckoning they should be real contenders in Twenty20.

Ramnaresh Sarwan is back at the helm after injury and the selectors have largely stuck with the players who took the one-day series against England. Pedro Collins - earning a recall not before time - and Narsingh Deonarine are the two new faces but neither has been called up because of particular success in Twenty20.

West Indies showed they can adapt to the format, piling up 208 in the first game at The Oval and sharing the series 1-1. There was a new verve about their play during the latter part of the England tour as the team responded to Chris Gayle's captaincy. However, they are one of the teams coming into the tournament cold, and will have to hit the ground running in a tough group that includes South Africa and Bangladesh.

Home truths
There is no Twenty20 competition in the proper domestic season in the West Indies, but the game has taken the Caribbean by storm thanks to Allen Stanford. His multi-million dollar Stanford 20-20 has breathed new life into cricket in the region, although most of the players in the West Indies World Championship squad haven't participated to any great level. Stanford, though, has big plans to go with his big pockets. He wants to take his game international. Last year he tried to entice South Africa for a big-money showdown with an all-star XI, while Australia have also been approached.

Strengths
The depth of their batting means they will be able to go hard throughout the 20 overs. There is no shortage of powerful strikers and the boundaries won't be big enough for Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels (Twenty20 strike-rate: 190) and Dwayne Smith if they get going.

Those three and Dwayne Bravo are all capable of bowling their four-over spells, which allows West Indies to pick a top-heavy team. Potentially they could have Denesh Ramdin down at No. 8 or No. 9, and there is a great flexibility about the order.

Even in Twenty20, having wicket-taking bowlers is vital, and Collins will form a potent attack with Daren Powell and Fidel Edwards.

Unless Gayle has a monster tournament, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul's golden string of scores continues, West Indies will be short of runs to trouble the top sides

Ian Chappell

Weaknesses
A couple of poor overs in either innings can lose a side a match. Twenty20 is a game where it is imperative for a team to keep their focus, and West Indian sides have been known to let their minds wander, especially when on tour. If they enter the tournament with an attitude that it is just a hit-about and a bit of fun, they could rapidly come unstuck.

Although they ended the England tour in fine spirit under Gayle's captaincy, now they must readjust to having Sarwan back in charge. Rumours of unrest between players and the coach, David Moore, have the potential to undermine the squad. And though it's a young side, fielding can also be an issue; the teams that go the furthest will be those that save the most runs.

Players to watch
Shivnarine Chanderpaul He might be a limpet in Test matches, but stick him in coloured clothing and he finds a new gear. In his one Twenty20 outing against England he went from blocker to basher, hitting 41 off 26 balls. Although 20 overs doesn't sound very long, there is value in having someone who can anchor the innings at the top. Chanderpaul's flexibility lends itself perfectly to that role, especially if the ball zips around in early-season South Africa.

Dwayne Bravo If West Indies are performing well, Bravo is usually at the centre of it. He provides a constant heartbeat to the team, even when others appear disinterested and distant. In all three areas of the game he can be a match-winner. His fielding is inspirational, he strikes the ball cleanly, and his bowling at the death has won one-day matches.

Dark horse
Darren Sammy Sammy burst onto the Test scene with 7 for 66 at Old Trafford before picking up an untimely hamstring injury, but he - like Bravo - is another multi-dimensional cricketer who gives his all and always appears to be enjoying the battle. While not express pace, his hit-the-deck seam bowling could be well-suited to South African conditions, and his presence in the side will enhance the fielding.



Shivnarine Chanderpaul has the flexibility to flay and block as required - a handy skill at the top of the order in Twenty20 © Getty Images

Ian Chappell's take
West Indies didn't perform well in the World Cup, playing at home and led by Brian Lara, and they're unlikely to do well in unfamiliar conditions and without their star batsman as captain.

However the West Indies players have an advantage over all but their English counterparts in that they have performed, under pressure and on a regular basis, in their domestic Twenty20 tournaments. The Stanford competition is a big-money affair, and West Indies are more used to serious Twenty20 cricket than most other countries where the game was treated more as entertainment until the announcement of this high-profile ICC tournament.

On paper West Indies have most of the ingredients for a strong Twenty20 side. They have a big-hitting opener to take advantage of the fielding restrictions in the first six overs; they have a couple of very talented allrounders in Dwayne Bravo and Marlon Samuels to add depth in batting and bowling; and they have a pacy new-ball bowler who can strike early.

However Chris Gayle's poor footwork has made him highly inconsistent of late, and Samuels has flattered to deceive for a long time. As for Dwayne Smith, he no longer deceives - he always hits a six over midwicket and then promptly gets out.

Fidel Edwards, on the other hand, seems to have come of age in England, where he bowled with pace and fire. If Daren Powell and Pedro Collins give him good support, West Indies might at last have something resembling a potent attack.

However, unless Gayle has a monster tournament, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul's golden string of scores continues, West Indies will be short of runs to trouble the top sides.

West Indies will need to be at their best to get past Bangladesh in the preliminary round, but even if they do get past that hurdle, I don't expect them to reach the semi-finals. Rating: 6/10

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo

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